Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Charles Francis Saunders and Mira Culin Saunders Collection of Photographs and Negatives: Finding Aid
photCL 276  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (218.65 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement
  • Related Materials
  • Index Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Charles Francis Saunders and Mira Culin Saunders Collection of Photographs and Negatives
    Dates (inclusive): approximately 1871-1965
    Bulk dates: 1910s-1920s
    Collection Number: photCL 276
    Creator: Saunders, Charles Francis, 1859-1941.
    Creator: Saunders, Mira B. Culin.
    Extent: approximately 10,000 photographs in 58 boxes (24.98 linear feet)
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo Archives
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: The Charles Francis and Mira Culin Saunders Collection of Photographs and Negatives consists of 5826 black and white photographs, 68 glass plate negatives, 3832 film negatives, 10 photographs albums, 261 lantern slides, and related ephemera, ca. 1871-1965 (bulk 1910s-1920s), collected and created by Charles Francis Saunders, Elisabeth Hallowell Saunders, and Mira Culin Saunders. The collection provides a comprehensive overview of Charles Saunders' activities as a naturalist and travel writer.
    Language: English.


    Advance arrangements for viewing unprinted negatives must be made with the Curator of Photographs. The collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please visit the Huntington's website: www.huntington.org.  

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    Charles F. and Mira Culin Saunders Collection of Photographs and Negatives. The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Gift of Mira Culin Saunders in 1952, 1956, 1958, 1966. Two boxes transferred to the Photo Archives from the Manuscripts Department, Huntington Library, in 1994.

    Processing Information

    In the mid-1990s, Jane Apostol arranged, numbered and rehoused a majority of the collection, and created a Container List. In December 2006, Sue Luftschein completed the rehousing and arrangement and created this finding aid based, in part, on the original Container List.

    Biographical Note

    Charles Francis Saunders (1859-1941) was born to Quaker parents in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He and his first wife, Elisabeth Hallowell Saunders (d. 1910), were both avid naturalists; Charles began publishing essays on botany as early as the 1890s. Charles and Elisabeth also collaborated on a number of publications, he as author, she as illustrator. After a honeymoon trip to California and the Southwest in 1902, the couple moved permanently to California in 1906 and settled in a Craftsman bungalow on North Lake Avenue in Pasadena, where Charles devoted himself full time to writing. He eventually published more than a dozen books inspired by California and the Southwest. Both Charles and Elisabeth were amateur photographers, and many of their photographs were used to illustrate Saunders' books, The Indians of the Terraced Houses (1912) and Under the Sky in California (1913).
    In 1921, Saunders married Mira Barrett Culin (d. 1968) whom he had met at the Pasadena Garden Club. Also a writer, Mira shared Saunders' interest in gardens, botany, and photography. For many years, Mira published articles on Pasadena gardens, parks and trees in the Pasadena Star News, for which she took dozens of photographs.
    First with Elisabeth, and then with Mira, Saunders travelled extensively throughout California and the Southwest, photographing all of the California Missions, the regions' natural wonders, Native Americans, and flora, among other things. These interests became the subjects of 18 books and numerous essays and articles Saunders published in his lifetime. Many of these books were illustrated with photographs taken by their author on his many excursions.
    Saunders' collection of Native American pottery and crafts is now in the collection of the Southwest Museum, Los Angeles, and his botanic library is in the possession of the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens.
    [Source: Apostol, Jane. "Southern California Through the Lens of Charles Francis Saunders," Southern California Quarterly, volume 81 (Spring 1999): 1-88.]

    Scope and Contents

    The Charles Francis and Mira Culin Saunders Collection of Photographs and Negatives consists of 5826 black and white photographs, 68 glass plate negatives, 3832 film negatives, 10 photograph albums, 261 lantern slides, and related ephemera, ca. 1871-1965 (bulk 1910s-1920s), collected and created by Charles Francis Saunders, Elisabeth Hallowell Saunders, and Mira Culin Saunders. The collection provides a comprehensive overview of Charles Saunders' activities as a naturalist and travel writer.
    The collection is broadly divided into four parts: photographs created and collected by Charles and Elisabeth Saunders; photographs created and collected by Mira Saunders; photograph albums assembled by Charles Saunders; and lantern slides. All four parts contain similar and overlapping subject matter.
    The first part of the collection includes numerous views of Pasadena and Altadena; portraits of Charles Saunders, Mira Saunders, and family and friends; the Saunders home, Ah-Tshi-Quah-Nah, at 580 North Lake Avenue in Pasadena (front and back exterior views, garden views, and interiors); miscellaneous Pasadena residences; vineyards and orchards in and around Pasadena; the San Gabriel Mountains, including Mount Wilson and the Observatory; the Santa Monica Mountains and Los Angeles County (including Topanga Canyon, Malibu Creek, Devil's Punchbowl, and Llano del Rio); Monrovia, San Gabriel, and Sierra Madre in the San Gabriel Valley; Los Angeles city and county (including the Plaza, Olvera Street, the La Brea Tar Pits, Santa Monica, Venice, San Pedro, and Santa Catalina Island); landscape views in numerous California counties (including Inyo, Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Monterey, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Sonoma, Tulare, Fresno, and Ventura); Yosemite National Park; views taken on excursions (including from Santa Barbara to San Franciso, Portland to Pasadena, to Cuyama, to Ballarat, and Ojai to Ensenada); California Missions; camping and picnic scenes (with emphasis on the Mojave Desert); flora; Native Americans and Native American sites in Arizona and New Mexico; New Orleans; Mexico; Central America (including El Salvador, Panama, and Nicaragua); and Canada.
    The second part of the collection, photographs created and collected by Mira Saunders, includes many views of civic buildings in Pasadena (including City Hall and the Public Library, with an emphasis on the trees and shrubs surrounding these buildings); Pasadena parks (including Carmelita Gardens); Pasadena gardens and homes; the Saunders home and garden; California Missions; botanic gardens (including many views of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden); and flora.
    The 10 photograph albums were created by Charles Saunders around 1900. Some of the images included in these albums can be found elsewhere in the collection; some of the photographs were taken by Elisabeth Saunders. The subjects of the albums include Southern California mountains and deserts; the Navajo and Zuni Indians; Santa Catalina Island; Pasadena; and Yosemite.
    The lantern slides depict the same general subjects as found elsewhere in the collection. Approximately half duplicate images found in the collection; the remainder are unique. The majority are hand-colored.
    Also included in the collection are ephemeral materials. These include a bookplate designed by Charlotte Blazer, used for the Saunders botanic library donated to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden; various notes by Mira Saunders; and cards and postcards.
    Photographers represented in the collection include A.E. Arnold; Max Munn Autrey; Guy Barry, Swastika Studio; Ernest H. Brooks; Lindley Eddy; Frasher's; Gilbert and Bacon, Philadelphia; F. Gutenkunst, Philadelphia; I.O. Haskin, Oregon; Lamson; Marriott C. Morris; Notel, Pasadena; Harold A. Parker, Pasadena; H.C. Phillips, Philadelphia; Wright M. Pierce; L.S. Slevin, Carmel; Ward Wicart Studios, Santa Barbara; F.A. Wenderoth and Co., Philadelphia; and S.H. Willard.
    Many photographs have notations by Charles Saunders on the verso.


    The collection is arranged by collector, location, subject, and format. The images of flora are arranged alphabetically by Latin name.

    Related Materials

    Index Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Arnold, A.E.
    Autrey, Max Munn.
    Barry, Guy.
    Brooks, Ernest H.
    Chase, J. Smeaton (Joseph Smeaton), b. 1864--Photographs.
    Conger, Edwin H. (Edwin Hurd), 1843-1907--Homes and haunts--Photographs.
    Eddy, Lindley.
    Edmunds, George F. (George Franklin), 1828-1919--Homes and haunts--Photographs.
    Eytel, Carl, 1862-1925--Photographs.
    Gutenkunst, F.
    Haskin, I. O.
    Lamson, Joseph Harrison, 1840-1902.
    Morris, Marriott C.
    O’Sullivan, St. John, 1874-1933--Photographs.
    Parker, Harold A. (1878-1930).
    Phillips, H. C.
    Pierce, Wright M.
    Saunders, Charles Francis, 1859-1941--Homes and haunts--Photographs.
    Saunders, Elisabeth Hallowell (d. 1910).
    Slevin, L. S. (Louis Stanislas), 1878-1945.
    Van Rensselaer, Maunsell, 1897--Photographs.
    Wenderoth, F.A.
    Willard, S.H.


    Asistencia San Antonio de Pala (Pala, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Avila Adobe (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Camp Bonita (San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles County, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Carter's Camp (Little Santa Anita Canyon, Los Angeles County, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Frashers Inc.
    General M.G. Vallejo Home (Sonoma, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Gilbert and Bacon.
    Mission La Purisima Concepcion (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Mission San Carlos Borromeo (Carmel, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Mission San Francisco Solano (Sonoma, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Mission San Gabriel Arcangel (San Gabriel, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Mission San Jose (Alameda County, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Mission San Juan Capistrano--Photographs.
    Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Mission San Miguel Arcangel (San Miguel, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Mission San Rafael Arcangel--Photographs.
    Mission San Xavier del Bac (Tucson, Ariz.)--Photographs.
    Mount Wilson Observatory--Photographs.
    Nuestra Senora de la Soledad (Mission : Calif.)--Photographs.
    Plaza Church (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Rancho Camulos (Piru, Calif.)--Photographs.
    San Antonio de Padua (Mission)--Photographs.
    San Buenaventura Mission--Photographs.
    San Diego Mission--Photographs.
    San Fernando, Rey de Espana (Mission : San Fernando, Calif.)--Photographs.
    San Francisco de Asis Mission (San Francisco, Calif.)--Photographs.
    San Juan Bautista (Mission : San Juan Bautista, Calif.)--Photographs.
    San Luis Rey Mission (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Santa Barbara Mission--Photographs.
    Santa Clara Mission--Photographs.
    Santa Cruz Mission--Photographs.
    Santa Ines Mission (Solvang, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Santuario de Chimayo (Chimayo, N.M.)--Photographs.
    Sturtevant's Camp (Big Santa Anita Canyon, Los Angeles County, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Tournament of Roses--Photographs.
    Ward Wicart Studios.


    Acapulco (Mexico)--Photographs.
    Acoma (N.M.)--Photographs.
    Altadena (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Angels Camp (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Annapolis (Md.)--Photographs.
    Asti (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Avalon (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Bakersfield (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Balboa Park (San Diego, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Ballarat (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Bandelier National Monument (N.M.)--Photographs.
    Big Bear City (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Big Bear Lake (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Bishop (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Brown Mountain (Los Angeles County, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Calaveras County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Camp Cajon (San Bernardino County, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Canal Zone--Photographs.
    Canyon de Chelly National Monument (Ariz.)--Photographs.
    Carmel (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Carpinteria (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Casa Grande National Monument (Ariz.)--Photographs.
    Colon (Panama)--Photographs.
    Cuyama Valley (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Cypress Point (Monterey County, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Death Valley (Calif. and Nev.)--Photographs.
    Devil's Punchbowl (Los Angeles County, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Donner Lake (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Eaton Canyon (Calif.)--Photographs.
    El Dorado County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    El Morro National Monument (N.M.)--Photographs.
    El Salvador--Photographs.
    Elizabeth Lake (Los Angeles County, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Ensenada (Baja California, Mexico)--Photographs.
    Espanola (N.M.)--Photographs.
    Estudillo House (San Diego, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Fisherman’s Wharf (San Francisco, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Fresno County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Gaviota Canyon (Lompoc, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Golden Gate Park (San Francisco, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Hidden Spring Canyon (Riverside County, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Humboldt County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Imperial County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Inyo County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail--Photographs.
    Julian (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Kern County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Kings Canyon National Park (Calif.)--Photographs.
    La Brea Pits (Calif.)--Photographs.
    La Jolla (San Diego, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Laguna Beach (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Lake Arrowhead (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Lake County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Little Bear Lake (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Llano Colony (Secular community)--Photographs.
    Long Beach (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Los Padres National Forest (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Lowe, Mount (Los Angeles County, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Madera County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Malibu Creek State Park (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Marin County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Mariposa County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Mark Twain-Bret Harte Trail (Tuolumne County, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park (Coloma, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Mecca Hills Wilderness (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Mendocino County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Merced County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Merced (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Mission Cliff Gardens (San Diego, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Mojave Desert (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Mono County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Montecito (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Monterey (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Monterey County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Montezuma Castle National Monument (Ariz.)--Photographs.
    Monrovia (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Morongo Valley (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Mount Baldy (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Napa County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    New Mexico--Photographs.
    New Orleans (La.)--Photographs.
    Nordhoff (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Ojai (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Olvera Street (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Orange County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Owens Valley (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Painted Desert (Ariz.)--Photographs.
    Palm Springs (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Panama (Panama)--Photographs.
    Pasadena (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Petrified Forest National Park (Ariz.)--Photographs.
    Pinnacles National Monument (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Piru (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Piru Creek (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Point Fermin (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Point Lobos State Reserve (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Port Hueneme (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Pueblo of San Ildefonso, New Mexico--Photographs.
    Red Rock Canyon State Park (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Redwood Highway--Photographs.
    Refugio State Beach (Goleta, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Riverside County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Robert Louis Stevenson State Park (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Saint Helena (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Salina Cruz (Mexico)--Photographs.
    Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument (N.M.)--Photographs.
    San Antonio (Tex.)--Photographs.
    San Benito County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    San Bernardino County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    San Diego (Calif.)--Photographs.
    San Diego County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    San Francisco (Calif.)--Photographs.
    San Francisco Peaks (Ariz.)--Photographs.
    San Gabriel (Calif.)--Photographs.
    San Gabriel Mountains (Calif.)--Photographs.
    San Gorgonio Pass (Calif.)--Photographs.
    San Jacinto Mountains (Calif.)--Photographs.
    San Luis Obispo County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    San Mateo County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    San Pedro (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Sandia Pueblo (N.M.)--Photographs.
    Santa Barbara (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Santa Barbara County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Santa Catalina Island (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Santa Clara County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Santa Cruz County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Santa Fe (N.M.)--Photographs.
    Santa Monica (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Santa Ynez River Valley (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Santa Ysabel Indian Reservation (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Sequoia National Park (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Sierra Madre (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Sierra Nevada (Calif. and Nev.)--Photographs.
    Sonoma (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Sonoma County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    South Pasadena (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Summerland (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Sutter's Fort (Sacramento, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Tahoe, Lake (Calif. and Nev.)--Photographs.
    Taos Pueblo (N.M.)--Photographs.
    Tecate Peak (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Theodore Roosevelt Dam (Ariz.)--Photographs.
    Thousand Palms (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Topanga (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Torrey Pines State Reserve (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Tubac (Ariz.)--Photographs.
    Tucson (Ariz.)--Photographs.
    Tulare County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Tuolumne County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Twentynine Palms (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Ventura County (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Whitney, Mount (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Wilson, Mount (Calif. : Mountain)--Photographs.
    Yosemite National Park (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Yuma (Ariz.)--Photographs.
    Zaca Lake (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Zuni Pueblo (N.M.)--Photographs.


    Adobe houses--California--Los Angeles--Photographs.
    Adobe houses--California--San Gabriel--Photographs.
    Adobe houses--California--South Pasadena--Photographs.
    Amusement parks--California--Venice (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Photographs.
    Botanical gardens--California--Photographs.
    Campers (Persons)--California--San Gabriel Mountains (Calif.)--Photographs.
    Camping--California--Mojave Desert--Photographs.
    Camping--California--Palm Springs--Photographs.
    Camping--California--Tuolumne County--Photographs.
    Canyons--California--San Gabriel Mountains--Photographs.
    Carriages and carts--Photographs.
    Canals--Venice (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Photographs.
    City halls--California--Pasadena--Photographs.
    Commercial buildings--California--Pasadena--Photographs.
    Deserts--New Mexico--Photographs.
    Farms--California--San Gabriel Valley--Photographs.
    Gardens--California--Los Angeles--Photographs.
    Greyfriars Bobby (Dog)--Photographs.
    Hiking--California--San Gabriel Mountains--Photographs.
    Hohokam architecture--Arizona--Photographs.
    Horse-drawn vehicles--Photographs.
    Hot springs--California--San Diego County--Photographs.
    Hot springs--California--Ventura County--Photographs.
    Indian architecture--North America--Photographs.
    Indians of North America--Arizona--Photographs.
    Indians of North America--New Mexico--Photographs.
    Indians of North America--New Mexico--Antiquities--Photographs.
    Library buildings--California--Altadena--Photographs.
    Library buildings--California--Pasadena--Photographs.
    Navajo Indians--Photographs.
    Oil wells--California--Signal Hill--Photographs.
    Oil wells--California--Summerland--Photographs.
    Orchards--California--San Gabriel Valley--Photographs.
    Outdoor recreation--California--Photographs.
    Petroglyphs--California--Death Valley--Photographs.
    Photography of gardens.
    Photography of plants.
    Photography of trees.
    Public buildings--California--Pasadena--Photographs.
    Ranches--California--Riverside County--Photographs.
    Ranches--California--San Diego County--Photographs.
    Street vendors--California--Long Beach--Photographs.
    Trading posts--Arizona--Photographs.
    Zuni Indians--Photographs.

    Document Types:

    Photograph albums.
    Lantern slides.